Princess Diana

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P e n g u i n R e a d e r s F a c t s h e e t s
l e v e l
T e a c h e r’s n o t e s
Princess Diana
by Cherry Gilchrist
rincess Diana is the biography of Diana, Princess of
Wales, who died at the age of 36 in 1997.
The author, Cherry Gilchrist, describes Diana’s
During the 1980s and 1990s, Diana, Princess of Wales
background and childhood and the events that led up to
was one of the world’s most glamorous and famous
her marriage to the Prince of Wales in July 1981. She
figures. Her photograph was printed on thousands of
examines the 15 years of Diana’s marriage - the birth of
magazine covers and pictures of her could be seen on
her two sons, her illnesses, her work for charities - and the
countless television programmes. Millions of people
growing problems in her relationship with Prince Charles
around the world knew of Diana, but few people actually
that led to divorce in 1996. The book explains how the
knew the real person behind the media image. It is this
‘fairy-tale romance’ went wrong and how Diana eventually
real person rather than the public persona that Cherry
freed herself from the royal family and started to lead an
Gilchrist examines. In Princess Diana she pulls aside the
independent life.
curtains of royal mystery and mystique surrounding Diana
In the final chapter the author relates the tumultuous
and looks at the inner person, her feelings, attitudes and
events of 1997, Diana’s new romance with Dodi Fayed,
anxieties. She shows how Diana’s background and
her shocking death in a car accident and the royal funeral
upbringing influenced her and how her personality was
that was watched by millions of television viewers around
formed from the many painful experiences she had to
the world. We learn of the contribution that Diana made to
endure as the child of a broken marriage. The effect of
Britain and the world and the lessons which her life can
childhood experience on the adult is an important feature
teach us all.
of the text.
One of the major themes that the book examines is the
question of how a princess in the modern world should
behave. Diana’s open and informal style is contrasted with
Cherry Gilchrist was born in 1949 and now lives in Bristol,
the more rigid traditions of the British royal family. Cherry
England. She is an expert on social history and has
Gilchrist illustrates the growing conflict between Diana’s
written educational books on English life in the First World
desire for freedom and a more relaxed approach to life
War and in the 1930s. She has also written original stories
with her husband’s conservative sense of what was
for children and is well known for retelling traditional
‘suitable’ for a princess.
stories and legends. The Streets of London is another title
This theme has a universal application. In many
in the Penguin Readers series which Cherry has written.
countries, people in public positions have to balance their
In addition to having an interest in social history, Cherry
desire to behave normally with the commonly held belief
Gilchrist writes and lectures on myths, symbolism and
that people in authority should be very dignified and
ancient wisdom. She has written several books on
respectable and rather distant from ordinary life, and that
alchemy and astrology, including Planetary Symbolism in
it is degrading for public figures to act too frivolously or
Astrology and The Elements of Alchemy; this last work
informally. Similarly, the author describes the intrusion of
has been translated into four languages. Her first love,
the press into Diana’s private life and raises the question
however, is Russian art and culture and she runs a
of the extent to which the public is entitled to know about
business arranging exhibitions and sales of Russian
the personal lives of celebrities. Do public figures have the
traditional arts and crafts.
right to a private life, or is everything they do open to
public inspection? This is an issue which has remained at
When she is not writing, Cherry loves to travel: she has
the forefront of public debate since Diana’s death.
a home in Russia and she has visited many parts of Asia
and the Middle East. Her husband is a financial writer and
The author is frank about Diana’s disastrous marriage.
she has two grown-up children.
She describes her illnesses and suicide attempts, the
© Pearson Education 2000

l e v e l
P e n g u i n R e a d e r s F a c t s h e e t s
T e a c h e r’s n o t e s
affairs, and the ultimate bitterness between Diana and
Chapters 3 - 4
Charles. Many little-known facts are exposed and the
Divide the class into two groups for a role-
important role of Camilla Parker-Bowles as Prince
play/discussion. Group A are ‘Charles’s people’ and
Charles’s lover and companion is explained. A key theme
Group B are ‘Diana’s people’.
is the part her two sons and her charity work played in
Tell them that they are going to decide how to treat the
helping Diana to form a new role for herself after her
two boys, William and Harry. They must think about
divorce in 1996. Finally, the tragic events of Diana’s death
education, places to go on days out, clothes, etc. and
are recounted.
must have reasons for thinking as they do (using the
information in chapter 4). The two groups then have a
In Princess Diana Cherry Gilchrist shows how easily
marriages can be built on illusions and the terrible cost
that has to be paid when these illusions are shattered. But
Chapters 5 - 6
it is an optimistic tale, for we learn how Diana’s love and
Ask students to look at the photo of Diana in front of the
kindness and her dedication to her children and charities
Taj Mahal (page 27). Ask them to tell you their feelings. Do
helped to save her from disaster and bring her even
they feel it is a sad picture? Why?
greater respect and fame in death than she had in life. In
Explain to the students that the Taj Mahal was built by an
her conclusion the author looks at the importance that
emperor (Shah Jehan). He built it to show his love for his
helping others and being open can have in achieving a
dead wife. Does this make the students feel differently
fulfilling life, however short that life might be.
about this photograph?
1 Put students into pairs. Ask one student in each pair to
C o m m u n i c a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s
look through the book at the photographs of Diana,
choose a photograph and describe it to their partner.
The following teacher-led activities cover the same
The partner must find the photograph.
sections of text as the exercises at the back of the reader,
2 Ask the class to look again at the last few paragraphs
and supplement those exercises. Supplementary exercises
on page 37. Read out this quotation: ‘When she died,
covering shorter sections of the book can be found on the
we all remembered that life can be very short. Every
photocopiable Student’s Activities pages of this Factsheet.
one of us has to do our best with the time that we
These are primarily for use with class readers but, with the
exception of discussion and pair/groupwork questions,
can also be used by students working in a self-access

Ask the class to make a list of what they think is ‘doing
the best with the time we have’. Help them with
suggestions: ‘helping other people’, ‘giving love and
happiness’, ‘having a happy family life and having
children’ etc. Write the ideas on the board. Students
Write these words on the board:
put the ideas in the order of importance for them.
Prince of Wales
Buckingham Palace
Queen Victoria
Ask students to look up any new words in their
G l o s s a r y
dictionaries. Then ask them to ‘brainstorm’ (write down
anything they know about) any of these topics and words.
It will be useful for your students to know the following words. Some
Then ask students to work in groups and compare notes.
of them are practised in the ‘Before You Read’ sections of exercises
Have a whole-class feedback session and write on the
at the back of the book. (Definitions are based on those in the
board any interesting ideas or useful items of vocabulary
Longman Active Study Dictionary.)
raised by the class as they talk.
appearance (n) if you make an appearance somewhere it means that
you go there and can be seen by others
charity (n) money or presents that are given to people who need help
fairy-tale (n) a story for children in which unreal things happen
Chapters 1 - 2
funeral (n) a meeting at church for somebody who has died
future (adj) happening in the time after now
Put students into groups of about four or five people.
hug (v) to put your arms around someone in a friendly way and hold
Explain to the groups that they are going to help Charles.
It is 1981 and Prince Charles has told the students that he
popular (adj) liked by a lot of people
is thinking about marrying Diana Spencer. He wants their
public (n) all the ordinary people in a place
advice. The students make a list of the good and bad
public (adj) there for anyone to use
things about marrying Diana. Discuss students’ ideas as a
recording (n) words or music that is put onto a machine
whole class.
royal (adj) belonging to a king or queen
separated (adj) not living with your husband/wife any more
P u b l i s h e d a n d d i s t r i b u t e d b y P e a r s o n E d u c a t i o n
F a c t s h e e t w r i t t e n b y M a r k F o l e y
F a c t s h e e t s e r i e s d e v e l o p e d b y L o u i s e J a m e s
© Pearson Education 2000

P e n g u i n R e a d e r s F a c t s h e e t s
l e v e l
S t u d e n t ’ s a c t i v i t i e s
Princess Diana
Students can do these activities alone or with one or more
other students. Pair/group-only activities are marked.

Activities before reading the book
1 Read the introduction to the book and answer these
Chapter 2
1 Are these statements true or false?
(a) What did Diana become ‘Queen’ of?
(a) Diana was the first English girl to marry a Prince
(b) What was Diana’s last name before she got
of Wales for 500 years.
(b) Charles first saw Diana in July 1980.
(c) How did Diana help people?
(c) Diana’s sister was married to Queen Elizabeth’s
(d) What happened in August 1997?
(e) Who was ‘Dodi’?
(d) Diana and Charles got 1000 wedding presents.
How old was Diana when she died?
(e) Diana liked going to Buckingham Palace.
(g) Where does Cherry Gilchrist live?
Before the wedding, Diana was very nervous
2 Talk about this question with a friend or write about it.
about Charles’s old girlfriend, Camilla.
Do you know of any other princesses (in real life or in
(g) Diana went to her wedding with her brother.
stories)? Are they like Diana? Must a princess be
(h) Charles and Diana went to Spain for their
beautiful? Must she be from a royal family? What do
wedding holiday.
you think?
The Royal Family believes it must not talk about
its problems.
Queen Elizabeth didn’t want to make the Royal
Activities while reading the book
Family more modern.
2 Why wasn’t Charles interested in Diana when he first
met her?
Chapter 1
3 What frightened Diana before she married Prince
1 Match the names with the descriptions:
(a) Johnnie Spencer
4 How many people were on the streets to wave at her?
(b) Charles Spencer
5 Talk about this question with a friend or write down
(c) Frances Spencer
your ideas.
(d) Sarah and Jane Spencer
What do you think of sending children away to
(e) Peter Shand Kydd
school? Do you think it is bad? Is it better for children
Raine Spencer
to stay at home and go to day school? Why do you
think parents send their children away to school?
Diana’s brother
Diana’s stepfather
(iii) Diana’s sisters
Chapter 3
(iv) Diana’s father
1 Here are two statements from the book about Diana
Diana’s stepmother
before her marriage:
(vi) Diana’s mother
‘She was too shy to speak in public.’
‘Her clothes were nothing special.’
2 What happened in:
Explain how these two things changed after her
(a) 1961
(b) 1964
(c) 1970
2 Who are Bruce Oldfield, Zandra Rhodes and
(d) 1975
Catherine Walker?
(e) 1977
3 Ask students to look up tradition in their dictionaries.
(f) 1978
How did Diana change a royal tradition when she
went to Australia, New Zealand and Canada in 1983?
3 Why didn’t Diana like horse riding?
4 What happened on:
4 Where did Diana’s love of charity work begin?
(a) 21 June 1982?
5 Discuss with a friend or write down your ideas:
(b) 15 September 1984?
Compare Diana’s life as a child with your life as a
5 Why didn’t Diana agree with Charles about how
child. What is the same? What is different? Think
William and Harry should study?
about your mother and father, the house you live/d in,
the school you go/went to, your brothers and sisters.
© Pearson Education 2000

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P e n g u i n R e a d e r s F a c t s h e e t s
S t u d e n t ’ s a c t i v i t i e s
6 Discuss this question with a friend or write a
..................................... McCartney
(e) Liza .....................................
What was Prince Charles talking about when he said
4 How did Diana help her sons to understand some of
‘it was not the right thing for a princess to do’? Do
the country’s problems?
you agree with Prince Charles about this? Do you
think princesses should be formal?
5 How did Diana act with sick people and people
without homes? Give an example.
Chapter 4
1 How did Diana try to hurt herself?
Chapter 6
1 Where did Diana go to see the problems with
2 Compare Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Write a paragraph. Think about the following things:
age, family, interests and feelings about Charles.
2 Where did Diana spend her birthday?
3 Match these events with the dates.
3 What was Diana talking about when she said ‘It was
the best holiday for years.’?
(a) Charles went to Balmoral alone for a month.
(b) The Palace told the world that Diana was ‘in the
4 Put these events into the correct order:
best of health’.
(a) Some of the paparazzi followed them in cars and
(c) Diana fell down some stairs when her first baby
on fast bikes.
was on the way.
(b) The car hit a wall.
(d) Prince William had a serious accident at school.
(c) They sent another car off from the front of the
(e) Diana fell down in public in Canada.
Diana went to see a doctor for help with her
(d) Dodi bought Diana an expensive ring.
eating illness.
(e) The crash killed Dodi and the driver.
January 1982
(f) They arrived at the Ritz and had dinner.
November 1982
(g) Diana died in hospital.
(iii) 1986
(h) Diana’s car drove very fast.
(iv) 1987
(i) Some of the paparazzi saw them leave.
(j) They left the hotel by the back door.
(vi) 1991
5 Who flew to Paris to bring Diana’s body home?
4 Discuss this question with a friend or write down your
6 Write the names of five people who went to Diana’s
What caused Diana’s illness?
Activities after reading the book
Chapter 5
1 1992 was a terrible year for Diana and the Royal
1 Imagine that Diana wrote a letter to her two sons
Family. The following things happened. Fill in the
before she died. In this letter she tells them about the
good things and the bad things in her life. She
explains why she married Prince Charles and why
(a) Her ..................................... died.
they separated. She talks about her way of living and
(b) There was a fire at ..................................... .
helping people. She gives the boys advice about the
future. Write the letter.
(c) Prince Andrew and ................................. split up.
2 Make a ‘timeline’ of Diana’s life. Divide your paper
(d) Andrew Morton’s ................................. came out.
into two parts. On the left side write the most
(e) Recordings of Diana and ...................................
important dates in Diana’s life. Next to them, on the
came out in the newspapers.
right side, write what happened on that date.
2 Why was Diana alone at Christmas 1992?
3 Diana had many famous friends. Fill in the gaps in the
..................................... John
(b) George .....................................
(c) Luciano .....................................
P u b l i s h e d a n d d i s t r i b u t e d b y P e a r s o n E d u c a t i o n
F a c t s h e e t w r i t t e n b y M a r k F o l e y
F a c t s h e e t s e r i e s d e v e l o p e d b y L o u i s e J a m e s
© Pearson Education 2000